What We're Reading

Daily Reads: Russians Talked About Having “Derogatory” Info on Trump; GOP Official Embraces Militias

A roundup of stories we're reading at BillMoyers.com HQ...

CNN: Russian Officials Discussed Using "Derogatory" Info to Influence Trump

U.S. President Donald Trump arrives for a family photo with leaders of the G7 and leaders of some African countries that have been invited for the two-day talks, on the second day of the G7 summit of Heads of State and of Government, on May 27, 2017 in Taormina, Sicily. (Photo credit should read JONATHAN ERNST/AFP/Getty Images)

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Laboratories of democracy –> The Texas lege, made infamous by the late Molly Ivins’ cutting wit, was the scene of a dramatic confrontation when a Republican lawmaker called Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers on a group of protesters opposing a bill that would punish “sanctuary cities” on Monday. According to The Texas Observer, the legislator, Republican Rep. Matt Rinaldi, then “threatened to ‘put a bullet in one of his colleagues’ heads’ during a scuffle” that ensued on the House floor. Rinaldi made a number of other racist comments, and then later claimed that he had been the victim of Democrats’ “bullying.”

Could it have been avoided? –> The investigation into the deadly terror attacks at a concert last week in Manchester, UK, has expanded. According to the BBC, three men have been arrested so far and a total of 14 are now being questioned in connection with the attack. Meanwhile, intelligence officials are coming under fire after it was discovered that MI5, the UK’s version of the FBI, was given three separate warnings that Salman Abedi, the suicide bomber, “was a potential threat.”

Rogue State –> While Donald Trump has said that he won’t make a decision about whether the US will remain engaged in the Paris climate deal, sources close to him have said he’s already decided to exit the accord. Last week, Trump reportedly told French president Emmanuel Macron that he was under “heavy” pressure from opponents of the deal back home. Daniel Politi has the details at Slate.

Ugly American –> Trump wrapped up his first foreign trip over the weekend, and most observers concluded that it did not go well. One State Department official told The Daily Beast’s Scott Bigsby, “when it comes to diplomacy, President Trump is a drunk tourist… Loud and tacky, shoving his way around the dance floor. He steps on others without realizing it. It’s ineffectual.”

After the tumultuous G-7 meeting during which Trump refused to reaffirm the principle of mutual defense that underpins the NATO alliance, German Prime Minister Angela Merkel made waves when she told reporters, “the times in which we could completely depend on others are, to a certain extent, over … I’ve experienced that in the last few days. We Europeans have to take fate into our own hands.” At The Guardian, Suzanne Moore argues that Merkel is now the “leader of the free world.” And while the hectoring tone of Trump’s address to NATO leaders has gotten a lot of attention, it’s important to note that the substance of his comments betrayed a troubling lack of understanding of how NATO works, according to an AP fact-check. [via TPM]

Not everyone thought the trip went poorly…

Meanwhile, back at the ranch. –> Pamela Brown, Jim Sciutto and Dana Bash report for CNN that “Russian government officials discussed having potentially ‘derogatory’ information about then-presidential candidate Donald Trump and some of his top aides in conversations intercepted by US intelligence during the 2016 election.” According to the report, the information was “financial in nature.”

Matthew Rosenberg, Mark Mazzetti and Maggie Haberman report for The New York Times that investigators want to know what was discussed during a meeting between Jared Kushner and Sergey N. Gorkov, the Russian banker who “is a close associate of Mr. Putin” but “has not been known to play a diplomatic role for the Russian leader.” Gorkov’s bank, the reporters noted, “was deeply intertwined with Russian intelligence, and remains under sanction by the United States.”

And according to Brandon Carter at The Hill, “Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA), the chairman of the Judiciary Committee, is calling for an investigation into ‘potentially fraudulent statements and misrepresentations’ made by a Chinese company promoting investments in property partly managed by White House adviser Jared Kushner’s family’s company.”

They lost their lives because of me and my friend and the way we look” –> CNN’s Madison Park has a heartbreaking interview with one of the two young women who were being harassed by a white supremacist who then murdered two men who came to their assistance on a Portland light rail train on Friday. It’s important to grapple with what happened, but please note that the video is difficult to watch.

In the aftermath of the attack, Portland mayor Ted Wheeler said that all public servants must condemn bigotry. Multnomah County GOP chair James Buchal called for Republicans to enlist groups such as the Oath Keepers into militias to protect them “because there are now belligerent, unstable people who are convinced that Republicans are like Nazis.” Jason Wilson has that story for The Guardian. And Aaron Mesh reports for the Willamette Week that Wheeler “asked the federal government to revoke permits for two ‘free speech’ rallies planned by right-wing groups, saying the events would further inflame a city where a white supremacist is charged with murdering two people.”

Science censorship” –> At High Country News, Elizabeth Shogren profiles Jane Zelikova, a scientist who resigned from the Department of Energy amid fears that her work would be censored by the new administration and formed a group called 500 Women Scientists.

Hyper-partisanship –> Sen. Elizabeth Warren teamed up with several of her Republican colleagues to offer legislation that would allow hearing aids to be sold over-the-counter to people with mild to moderate hearing loss. Advocates of the legislation say it would bring down prices and increase access. But Victoria McGrane reports that while it’s no surprise that companies that manufacture the devices aren’t happy about the bill, “opposition has emerged from less expected places: gun owners and a slew of conservative groups.” Gun rights advocates say the measure would abridge their right to bear arms, and no we don’t quite get how that would work either. McGrane adds: “The backlash appears to be rooted less in the substance of the legislation and more in the fact that it’s Warren — a senator increasingly targeted by Republican groups — who is behind it.”

But mostly madness –> In a piece titled, “The Madness And Science Behind The Donald Trump Handshake,” HuffPo’s Sam Stein talked to psychologists and other behavioral experts about Donald Trump’s infamously aggressive greetings.

Daily Reads was compiled by BillMoyers.com staff and edited by Kristin Miller.



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